Aberdeen designated hitter Alex Murphy got the job done by lifting a fly ball deep to right-center field.
State College third baseman Ronnierd Garcia came through with a flyout down the left field line.
Both went for sacrifice flies to score the go-ahead run for their teams in victories as the Spikes and IronBirds split a doubleheader Thursday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
Murphy’s sacrifice fly broke a tie in the seventh inning of Aberdeen’s 3-2 victory over State College in the first game. Garcia brought home the go-ahead run in the fourth inning and the Spikes’ offense came to life in an 8-2 win.
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Spikes manager Oliver Marmol credited Aberdeen starting pitcher Tanner Chleborad for keeping the ball down in the zone to limit State College to three hits in five innings. In the second game, State College recorded 14 hits.
“I’m not sure kind of what turned for those guys,” Marmol said. “… Game 2, I think these guys took advantage of some pitches up in the zone, some breaking balls that were left out over the plate and did some damage.
In the first game, State College starting pitcher Will Anderson gave up nine hits but limited Aberdeen to two runs in six innings. Spikes reliever Brandon Lee took the loss, allowing two hits and the game-winning run on Murphy’s sacrifice fly.
Dewin Perez took the mound for the second game and recorded a season-high eight strikeouts in six innings. Perez allowed two runs on five hits and walked two.
The State College lineup supported the effort, led by Spikes right fielder Nick Thompson, who went 5 for 7 in the doubleheader.
The Spikes (32-15) managed just three hits and hit into three double plays through five innings of the first game.
Darren Seferina led off the first with a single and stole second base. Robelys Reyes walked, but Danny Diekroeger sent a ground ball up the middle handled by Viele for a double play.
Seferina was left on third after a flyout to right field by Alex De Leon.
The Spikes recorded back-to-back singles in the second before seeing the inning ended on a double play started by Chleborad.
Chleborad went five scoreless innings, allowing just three hits. He walked three and struck out one.
The Spikes, meanwhile, matched the IronBirds (16-30) with three double plays to stay within striking distance.
The first double play ended the first inning. Aberdeen’s Riley Palmer belted a solo home run to right field to start the second.
Off the bat, Thompson froze in right field and threw his hands up, unable to track the ball through the clouds. It didn’t matter as the shot crashed into the bleachers to give the IronBirds a 1-0 lead.
Anderson ran into trouble in the fourth as Aberdeen threatened with baserunners on first and third and one out.
But the right-hander kept the IronBirds off the board, getting Viele to lunge and chase an outside pitch for the strikeout before getting Steve Wilkerson to strike out looking. Aberdeen took a 2-0 lead in the fifth on Palmer’s double down the left field line.
Anderson stranded Hector Veloz on third in the sixth on the Spikes’ third double play of the game, started by Reyes at shortstop and turned by Seferina.
“I think Anderson did a nice job giving us six strong,” Marmol said. “If we would have swung the bat a little better, we win both those games.”
The Spikes rallied with two runs in the bottom half.
Jake Stone lined a two-out single into left field to score Reyes, who got it rolling with a one-out single up the middle. Thompson followed with the single past a diving Viele, who smacked the ground in frustration as the tying run scored.
Murphy sent a sacrifice fly to deep right-center field to regain Aberdeen’s lead for good in the top of the seventh.
In the second game, Perez allowed one run in the top of the first inning before striking out the side. That set the tone for his eight-strikeout performance.
“He didn’t have complete fastball command, but his breaking ball looked pretty sharp tonight,” Marmol said. “It kept those guys off balance. … If his fastball had better command, it would have been a really interesting night for him.”